Kids These Days

Do children of this generation have it too easy?

I can remember it like it was yesterday. My dad would force us to look up from playing Atari so he could ramble on about the fact that when he was a child he only played with sticks and boxes.

"We didn't have video game systems and we actually played outside!" he exclaimed. My brother and I rolled our eyes incessantly and returned to our game of Space Invaders.

Now, I'm a mother and I find myself saying the same types of things to my children. The other day, my seven-year-old complained about having to do research for a homework assignment. I said, 

 "When I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we needed to learn about a subject we had to go to the library or read an encyclopedia." Of course, I had to further tell him that an encyclopedia was a book filled with information about topics, kind of like Wikipedia but in book form. He looked as if he felt sorry for me that my childhood was so hard.

Beyond all the modern conveniences that kids have access today, I've noticed that children are being granted more and more rights. I know that almost every generation looks at the ones that follow and feels that they have it too easy, but many children these days have no idea how good they have it.

My parents have told me many times that when they were young, kids were seen and not heard. Their parents had the last say and they weren't allowed to exert their opinion. They just had to obey and if they didn't, they would get a spanking.

Lucky for me, my parents weren't quite so strict with us, but they did have high expectations. We were required to call our parents "sir and "ma'am" when we addressed them. Now, we aren't quite as formal in my own home. Our kids call us Mom and Dad.

I've also noticed most children call adults that aren't their parents by their first name these days. None of my friend's little ones call me Mrs. Hewett, they call me Leigh. Honestly, I prefer that because I feel that Mrs. Hewett is my mother-in-law, but I wonder if a level of respect is being lost by not taking on my formal name.

I can't help but take pause when I think about the current crop of kids and wonder what the future holds for them in adulthood. We live in a world where many parents are willing stop an adult conversation to talk to their child if he or she tugs on their sleeve to ask a question. If I had tried to pull that with my dad, I would have gotten the stink eye and a serious talking to when we got home.

I'm not suggesting I'm a perfect parent. I've been known to my kids so that I can have a moment of peace to talk on the phone. Yet, as my children grow and I grow as a parent, I'm finding it more important to raise my children to not have a sense of entitlement and to have respect for grown-ups.

I am redefining the rights that I grant to my boys. I know for certain they have a right to feel loved, protected, and taken care of. However, they do not have the right to interrupt adults or dictate many of the choices that we make in our home, such as what they are allowed to watch on television.

Hell, when I was a kid, we not only had little say in what we watched but we didn't even own a remote control. I had to sit on a pillow in front of the TV and actually turn a knob to flip the channels. My dad made ME be the human remote control. Kids these days have no idea how good they have it!

Do you think that children in the current generation have too many rights? What sort of rules and privileges do you give your children in your home? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Linda Labbo August 29, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Kids who have no limits on them at home, or who are constantly "catered to" have no idea how to make it in the real world beyond home. Instant gratification has come to be the expectation for some children at home and thus outside of home. Children learn to respect themselves by first learning to respect their parents, teachers, etc. I for one hate to see parents who consistently cater to a child's every whim. I'd rather see them teach patience, respect for others, and self-respect.
Sue Anderson August 29, 2012 at 09:53 PM
My opinion (and I am 60, so take it for what it's worth as I am from a different generation than today's parents) but I believe too many rights are granted that aren't really rights and not enough limits are set to make a child feel safe and secure in the world. I think we are in trouble today with far too much of the type of parenting that puts a child in control of an entire family. I've seen it all around me, and yes, it does breed entitlement. Kids who grow up with unrealistic expectations that the world owes them a living are doomed to be disappointed. No wonder we have so much depression and angst among our young people. They were raised to believe the world evolves around them. Quite a let down to find that it doesn't. And no coping mechanisms learned in childhood because their parents couldn't stand to interfere with their "right" to be in charge. JMHO of course.
AL August 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM
IMHO, a lack of authority FROM the parents leads to kids having zero respect FOR their parents. I recently witnessed these two instances: First, a mother is trying to give her son (12-ish) instructions when he suddenly turns away while she's in mid-sentence, starts walking away and rolls his eyes while muttering "whatever" and ignoring her demands that he return to her. The mother huffs, does nothing and lets him continue to walk away. Second, a family is unloading gear for a soccer game at the park when their son (10-ish) starts angrily shouting "Dad, where's my cell phone?...WHERE'S. MY. CELLPHONE?!?" (not even allowing his dad time to answer between questions). I hope that the father addressed his son's rude outburst at some point, but in that moment he did nothing. I couldn't help but think back to how my parents would have reacted to me in similar situations. In the first one, my mom would have marched right over to me, spun me around and made it perfectly clear that my behavior was unacceptable, would not be tolerated and that I had better listen to her. In the second one, my dad would have grabbed my cell phone, smashed it in a million pieces on the ground and said "THERE's you cell phone. Now pick it up. EVERY piece. And while you're doing that, I want you to think about how rude you were and how if you EVER act that way again, I will NOT hesitate to kick your butt up and down this parking lot." Then he would lecture me the entire time I was picking it up.
Jim Carter August 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Agreed! Our kids have to finish their jobs around the house in order to get their 30 minutes of daily computer time, and we don't even have TV so sometimes they get to watch a movie on the computer. No allowance, so if they want money they can choose an extra job to do from our paid jobs list. But of course, they're still kids and still push their limits every day. They act up, sometimes in public, and we don't always handle things like we should in 20/20 hindsight. We're not perfect and neither are they, but we're trying!
Caroline U August 30, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Leigh, I totally agree with everything you said here! I feel like we are on the same page--I am not perfect, but I do expect my children to respect adults. I think it's an important lesson for them in not making them feel ENTITLED to everything in life--even respect. Respect is earned, not granted. I am guilty of giving in to my kids from time to time (don't we all?) but I really have tried to focus on teaching them basic and important manners directed specifically towards adults. I don't require a Ma'm and Sir but they must say, Yes PLEASE or No THANK YOU. I love this discussion because I agree that kids are sort of being given the run of the mill these days and when you give a person the controls of the plane and they can't fly it--guess what happens to the plane? It goes DOWN. Love your articles Leigh!!!


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